Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mourning in the Valley

The news sinks in slowly. It is 2 a.m. in the morning and somehow I just cant sleep. Truly envy the billions who woke up to the news of Jobs' passing. At least they got to sleep through the night. I tell you, 2011 has been one hell of a year.

Obviously I never knew the guy, never had a story about him, never took a picture, with him in the corner of the frame. I never attended any of his presentations, have managed to stay away from the lure of Cupertino even avoiding I280 at all costs during my trips down south. The closest I ever got to the aura were the two miserable years I had an Iphone ( more so because of AT&T though)

And yet I'm awake.

Says a lot about the guy I guess, but it got me running a root cause analysis in the middle of the night. I didnt stay awake during 9/11, I slept during the 11/27 attacks in Mumbai. What's the deal here?

Well, to be honest, I think its partly because of the things he said in that 2005 Stanford commencement speech. The made-for-hollywood tearjerker of a speech. Stuff about living upto your ideals and following your heart, and everything else. But I've seen a good deal of speeches. Something in this speech though truly resonated with the way he lived his life. and the way he saw death. All the failures, all the regrets he had. I think the honesty is jarring. Jarring enough to keep me awake tonight.

When I think of him, I see all those nameless faces I ride the train with every day into Palo Alto. All those technology workers in their 20s coding away oblivious to the chatter on board. All wired in. Some a product of the ecosystem like he was, some maybe visionaries in their own right, like he obviously was. Some in it just for the money, some in it for the fame. Its like everyone aspires to be the next Jobs, whether or not thats what fate has in store for them.

I sense that spirit when a coworker sends an email at midnight about a small breakthrough he's achieved and someone else lauds that effort. To me, thats weird, but hey whatever works. I begin to wonder, when was I that passionate about anything? There were moments but not many. Maybe the goal's to live those moments many times over. Or be critical of the few that remain.

I would really love to read Jobs' authorized biography when it comes out in November. I'm sure he would have painted a very colorful picture of his life given how secretive he was while living it. The guy loved to put on a show, a true entertainer. Will truly miss all of that.

And maybe someday we'll even see a movie about his life, or a TV series. There's a lot of content to fill in there with some free meals from the local ISKCON chapter.

But I think the thing I fear and will miss the most is the void he leaves behind, the uncertainty in not knowing who the next great erratic innovator would be or if he were the last. In not knowing whether he or she would be right here in the Valley ( the news hasnt been that good of late). I'm an optimist though, so I'll count on it to be local, and more so a realist when I pass by all the small incubator shops.

Someone's got to be hungry there, and more so foolish.

Thanks Jobs. Thanks for everything. The drama, the innovations, the turtleneck, the simplicity and the erratic craziness. And thanks for living your life by following your heart. I know most of us wont.

But then thats why you're Jobs. Thats why the billions of messages. and not to overlook the fact, thats why I'm awake at 2 in the night.

May your soul rest in peace.


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